§ 50. Mr. J. P. MORRIS
asked the Lord President of the Council if he is aware that hardship has been caused to the 439 stockbrokers of the country by his advice given to the holders of 5 per cent. War Loan to consult bankers as to the conversion of their holdings without making any reference to stockbrokers; and will he take steps to make it known that the public may obtain assistance through stockbrokers as well as banks?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
I would remind my hon. Friend that the Explanatory Note sent to all holders tells them:If you are in any doubt how to complete the forms you Should consult your banker, stockbroker or solicitor, or you may obtain advice and assistance free of charge on personal application at any bank or banking office, even though you do not keep an account there.The banks are, by reason of the great number of their branches, more accessible to most holders, but I of course welcome the assistance which I am sure is being given by the stockbroking profession.
§ Mr. ATTLEE (by Private Notice)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether solicitors, brokers, and bankers are being allowed five shillings per cent. commission as agents for forwarding applications for conversion in connection with the War Loan Conversion scheme; and whether, in view of the fact that this Conversion is being conducted as a measure of economy, he will advise holders to convert their stock direct and thus effect substantial savings in respect of the commissions so payable by His Majesty's Government?
§ Major ELLIOT
Bankers, stockbrokers, solicitors and Scottish law agents are being allowed commission on continued holdings at the rate of 5s. per £100 nominal if notified not later than 31st July, and at the rate of 2.s. 6d. per £100 nominal if notified between 1st August and 30th September. While my right hon. Friend is fully alive to the importance of economy in this as in other matters, the essential point is how we can get into touch with an enormous body of stockholders, and he is sensible of the great assistance that can be afforded by bankers, brokers and solicitors in this matter, both to the stockholders and to the Treasury. Individual stockholders will no doubt use their own discretion; but it is of the first importance that the forms of request should be properly filled up, and that they should 440 be lodged without delay, and my right hon. Friend is satisfied that the payment of the commissions in question will conduce to these ends. He is not prepared, therefore, to do anything to discourage stockholders from making use of the ordinary channels by which such business is customarily conducted.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Is not this rather a reflection on the patriotism of the solicitors, brokers, and bankers in suggesting that they should have special remuneration while the rest of the country is being asked to go into conversion to a lower rate of interest?
§ Major ELLIOT
This is a scheme which was drawn up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—not my right hon. Friend, but the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer, with whom I understand the hon. Member opposite was associated for many years. It has always been understood that persons are remunerated for performing services which are of benefit both to the people for whom the services are being immediately rendered arid to the Government which is asking for those services.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Why should these persons be paid by the Government for performing their ordinary professional duty towards their clients and customers?
§ Major ELLIOT
They are performing a duty which is of the utmost use to their customers and the State, and they are receiving the ordinary rates of remuneration for those duties.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
Suppose that a friendly society had a large sum of money to convert in this connection, would that society, if it transacted this business on its own account, get the rebate now going to the bankers?